Zafrullah guilty of contempt, punished
A war crimes tribunal today found Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury guilty of contempt and imprisoned him at court for an hour for criticising punishment of Bangladesh-based UK journalist David Bergman.
International Crimes Tribunal-2 held on dock under police vigilance and fined him Tk 5,000 – in default of which he will have to serve a month in prison.
Twenty-two others, who were facing the same charge, were exonerated. The court said they had committed the contempt for the first time.
This was Zafrullah’s second time contempt, the court said adding that he should have been given “significant punishment” but was considered because of his age.
The Gonoshasthaya founder, who stood on the docks from roughly around 12:50pm to 1:50pm, later told journalists that he will appeal against the verdict.
Those exonerated others are: Masud Khan, Afsan Chowdhury, Ziaur Rahman, Hana Shams Ahmed, Anu Muhammad, Anusheh Anadil, Muktasree Chakma Sathi, Lubna Marium, Farida Akhter, Shireen Huq, Ali Ahmed Ziauddin, Rahnuma Ahmed, Shahdul Alam, CR Abrar, Bina D'Costa, Mahmud Rahman, Zarina Nahar Kabir, Leesa Gazi, Shabnam Nadiya, Nasrin Siraj Annie, Tibra Ali and Delwar Hussain.
On December 2, 2014, the tribunal found Bergman, editor (special reports) of New Age, guilty of contempt of court for two of his blog posts of January 2013 on the verdict of Abul Kalam Azad, also known as Bachchu Razakar.
He was sentenced to imprisonment "till rising of the court" that day and fined Tk 5,000.
On December 20 last year, the daily Prothom Alo ran a report titled "50 people express concern over Bergman's punishment", which stated that the order would restrict freedom of expression.
One signatory, Khusi Kabir, later withdrew her name. The tribunal cleared 26 citizens of the charge as they apologised unconditionally.
Last month, the ICT-2 gave six more days to the remaining 23 eminent persons to respond to the tribunal why they should not be punished for contempt.
The three-member tribunal asked them to place their replies before the tribunal by April 29. It also asked 15 of them who are living in the country to appear before it on the day.